Faithful Interpretation: Reading the Bible in a Postmodern World

Article excerpt

Faithful Interpretation: Reading the Bible in a Postmodern World. By A. K. M. Adam. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2006. ix + 195 pp. $20.00 (paper).

This book is a collection of essays written by A. K. M. Adam between 1990 and 2004, with an epilogue presented as a paper at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2005 and an introduction written for this collection. I have long been familiar with Adam's seminal writings on postmodern biblical criticism, but I was not familiar with his writings on theological interpretation of the Bible. While this book is not an introduction to postmodern biblical criticism or theological interpretation of the Bible, for readers who have some previous knowledge of these topics it is a stimulating exploration of the ways in which the two might be brought into fruitful engagement with each other.

In his introduction, Adam describes his work less as "a discovery of something new than a critical reappropriation of ways that faithful readers have interpreted Scripture and sought to direct their hearts and souls and minds and strength toward loving God more truly" (p. 18). Adam sees in postmodern biblical criticism possibilities for critically re-engaging particular readings of the Bible and particular ways of reading the Bible that have been marginalized by the claim of historical criticism to primacy in biblical interpretation. To the challenges posed by these readings, Adam adds a persuasive critique of the claims both that historical criticism is necessary to protect "Christological orthodoxy" (chap. 2) and that historical criticism can guarantee that interpretations of the Bible will be ethical (chap. 3).

In a particularly thought-provoking essay, Adam calls the faithful to take responsibility for their imitation of Christ (chap. …